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Analyzing The Big Ten’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

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It’s been 17 seasons since the Midwest’s flagship conference claimed an NCAA crown. After looking at another set of largely uninspiring non-conference slates, I’m starting to think the Big Ten’s approach to November and December might be part of the problem.

NCAA Basketball: Colgate at Penn State
The Big Ten’s NCAA Tournament results have been flagging since Michigan State’s 2000 National Championship.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2017-18 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Ranking The Teams

All but one Big Ten squad ranks among the top 100 in the four-year national ranking—Rutgers, not surprisingly is the exception—with eight teams, including an Ohio State outfit that’s missed the last two NCAA Tournaments, in the top 50. However, the conference’s lack of truly top teams means it only ranks fourth among the 32 D1 leagues, below the Big East, ACC, and Big 12—the home conferences of six of the top national 10.

Big Ten Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Wisconsin 11.434455 12
Michigan State 10.684675 16
Purdue 10.32924 19
Michigan 8.844334 27
Maryland 8.40849 30
Indiana 8.388665 31
Iowa 8.20164 33
Ohio State 6.83744 46
Northwestern 5.418272 61
Minnesota 4.9201345 64
Illinois 4.625961 71
Nebraska 3.498388 88
Penn State 3.1989835 95
Rutgers -1.40088345 199
Average 6.670699611 56.57142857
Conference Rank 4th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

The Big Ten should be thankful that I elevated the American Athletic to the power conference group for purposes of these rankings. That change is the only thing that keeps the league from owning the lowest conference-wide schedule strength of the Power 7—across all four schedule strength metrics.

The most distressing ranking is the Known Schedule Strength one, where out of all of Division I, only the American, Sun Belt, and West Coast managed to do worse on average than the Big Ten.

While each and every other power conference has at least one schedule ranked in the top 50 in each of the four categories, the Big Ten has just two total across the quartet—Purdue’s 49th-ranked Maximum Schedule (thanks to a very strong top half of the Battle 4 Atlantis) and Wisconsin’s 43rd-ranked Minimum Schedule (as the Badgers are participating in the four-team CBE Classic, the strongest bracketed event of the season).

But the most serious indictment of Big Ten non-conference slates is that the majority fall in the bottom half of Division I, no matter the category. Don’t expect that to change when the conference moves to 20 league games next season. Contests against higher-ranked competition—at least those scheduled outside of exempt tournaments or the Big Ten/ACC Challenge—are likely to be the two non-league matchups eliminated.

*Denotes team will participate in a bracketed tournament. Reminder: Known Score = known matchups only; Average Score = known games+average of potential bracketed matchups; Maximum Score = known games+games against best potential bracketed matchups; Minimum Score = known games+games against worst potential bracketed matchups

Big Ten Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Wisconsin* 4.389302554 56 3.698536892 68 4.427659631 67 4.350945477 43
Ohio State* 3.548867189 87 2.220681536 144 4.5527438 62 2.257192915 130
Purdue* 3.51992873 88 2.111937991 147 4.913804454 49 2.177598195 138
Indiana 3.441463289 93 3.441463289 79 3.441463289 106 3.441463289 77
Michigan* 3.241056079 101 2.084600071 152 4.219853964 74 2.524124675 115
Michigan State* 2.394448173 137 0.5998064477 247 3.424499494 107 1.131515518 210
Northwestern* 1.50196788 201 1.271222623 204 1.83996946 195 1.1639663 207
Minnesota 1.166929382 220 1.166929382 208 1.166929382 228 1.166929382 206
Maryland* 1.034234893 229 0.6674110406 240 1.154829788 229 0.913639999 220
Nebraska* 0.8423410885 238 0.2553877443 262 1.883598226 191 -0.1125622548 281
Iowa* 0.2856039548 265 -0.4445270591 296 0.9336655846 248 -0.1742475404 283
Penn State* 0.1549882173 274 -0.7935564417 316 0.0810929385 288 0.2288834962 257
Illinois -0.6602639212 314 -0.6602639212 308 -0.6602639212 320 -0.6602639212 300
Rutgers -2.415899092 346 -2.415899092 345 -2.415899092 346 -2.415899092 346
Average 1.60321203 189.2142857 0.9431236073 215.4285714 2.068853357 179.2857143 1.142377603 200.9285714
Conference Rank 21st of 32 29th of 32 18th of 32 25th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

In short, every single Big Ten member under-scheduled this season, and not by an insignificant margin either. No conference squad ranks in the top 100 in terms of scheduling gap, while three squads, including NCAA hopefuls Maryland and Iowa, rank in the bottom 50. Even Michigan State, a program typically praised for its non-league slates, managed to under-schedule by 121 places in 2017-18.

Big Ten Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
104 Ohio State 46 87 -41
108 Wisconsin 12 56 -44
146 Indiana 31 93 -62
157 Purdue 19 88 -69
169 Michigan 27 101 -74
230 Michigan State 16 137 -121
255 Northwestern 61 201 -140
266 Rutgers 199 346 -147
270 Nebraska 88 238 -150
281 Minnesota 64 220 -156
294 Penn State 95 274 -179
307 Maryland 30 229 -199
321 Iowa 33 265 -232
327 Illinois 71 314 -243
231.0714286 Average (28/32 conf.) 56.57142857 189.2142857 -132.6428571

Big Ten Road & Non-D1 Games

True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
20 (4 Gavitt Games; 7 Big Ten/ACC Challenge) 1 (+2 semi-road games +2 possible semi-road games in MTEs +1 possible true road game in MTEs) 4 (+1 possible in the Maui Invitational)

When examining true road games, the Big Ten sits exactly in the middle of the Power 7 conferences, but you have to think the conference’s 2017-18 total of 20 would be far lower if it didn’t play in two challenge series. The lone road game in a mid-major gym is Penn State’s matchup at George Mason, though Illinois (UNLV) and Maryland (Stony Brook) encounter non-power opponents in semi-road situations.

The Big Ten’s four non-D1 games edges the SEC for first place among the power conferences.

Big Ten Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
ACC 19 5
Big East 14 5
Horizon 8 0
MEAC 8 0
SWAC 8 0
America East 7 0
Atlantic Sun 7 0
NEC 7 0
A 10 6 2
C-USA 6 2
OVC 6 0
WAC 6 0
Big 12 5 6
MAAC 5 1
MAC 5 1
MVC 5 1
SEC 5 4
American Athletic 4 4
Big South 4 0
Ivy 4 0
Non-D1 4 1
Summit 4 1
Big Sky 3 1
Sun Belt 3 0
Big West 2 1
CAA 2 0
Pac-12 2 6
SoCon 2 0
MW 1 2
Patriot 1 0
Southland 1 0
WCC 1 1

Big Ten teams have at least one game scheduled against every other D1 league, with just four conferences set for a single contest (though that number could grow in the case of the Mountain West and WCC). While the top two conferences, both Power 7 members, account for 33 games total, the next 10 account for 69. And that group includes the MEAC, SWAC, and NEC—the three lowest-rated conferences in Division I.

Big Ten Non-Conference Games By Strength And Location

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
1-25 5 5 5 15 1.071428571 12
26-50 7 6 1 14 1 9
51-75 3 5 4 12 0.8571428571 6
76-100 2 1 3 6 0.4285714286 2
101-150 10 1 6 17 1.214285714 8
151-200 16 2 3 21 1.5 3
201-250 19 0 1 20 1.428571429 1
251-300 21 0 1 22 1.571428571 1
301-351 34 0 0 34 2.428571429 1
Non-D1 4 0 0 4 0.2857142857 1
Total 121 20 24 165
Average 8.642857143 1.428571429 1.714285714 11.78571429
Percentage 0.7333333333 0.1212121212 0.1454545455
Conference Rank (of 32) 1st 31st 7th

Yesterday, I wrote about how the SEC got its scheduling house in order by limiting games against the bottom 101 (24 set games spread among 14 members). The Big Ten, with 56 such games among its 14 teams, could certainly stand to learn something from its Southern rivals. The difference is similarly stark when looking at games against the top 100—the SEC has 70 total contests against that group, compared to 47 for the Big Ten.

Naturally, the Big Ten leads the nation in home non-conference games and only Big 12 teams will hit the road fewer times (by percentage anyway).

Given the conference’s lack of postseason success, as a Big Ten squad—Michigan State—last won the NCAA crown in 2000. Maybe it’s time to try something different than consistently scheduling home games against Division I’s weaker teams in November and December. Not only does this tactic potentially put a cap on the seeds Big Ten teams earn, but these contests can’t possibly prepare conference members for the rigors of March.

One factor to keep in mind is that Big Ten teams will play a compressed non-conference schedule in 2017. That’s because each will play a pair of conference games in December so the league can play its postseason tournament at Madison Square Garden during the week before Selection Sunday.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Average Schedule Strength National Ranking. Numbers in parentheses are opponent’s Team Score Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

Games marked with a ^ are part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Those marked with a # are part of the Gavitt Tip-Off series.

56. Wisconsin Badgers

*Exempt Event: CBE Hall Of Fame Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
South Carolina State (334)* None Baylor (13)* None Virginia (2)^
Yale (96)* UCLA (28) or Temple (94)
Xavier (25)# Creighton (34)*
Milwaukee (194)
Marquette (57)
WKU (190)
Green Bay (118)
Chicago State (342)
UMass Lowell (316)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Chicago State, @Marquette, Green Bay) and 1 loss (@Creighton)

The Badgers schedule features seven top 100 opponents, with four of those games set to take place away from Madison. As I mentioned earlier, Wisconsin’s exempt event, the CBE Classic, is the strongest bracketed tournament of the season, as all four entrants reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament. However, Greg Gard’s squad drew the short straw and gets Baylor, likely to be the best of the quartet in 2017-18, in the semifinals. Then there’s the Big Ten/ACC Challenge tilt against Virginia, which should be an, um, interesting watch. As for the home slate, visits from Yale, Xavier, and Marquette will be tough tests, but they don’t quite make up for the presence of three sub-300 opponents.

87. Ohio State Buckeyes

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Motion Bracket

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0-1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0-1)
Robert Morris (262) None Gonzaga (4)* None Portland State (257)
Radford (255) Florida (17) or (or Duke, Butler,
Texas Southern (206) Stanford (74)* or Texas)*
Northeastern (138)* Duke (9) or
Clemson (47)^ Butler (26) or
William & Mary (113) Texas (39)
Appalachian State (286) (or Portland State)*
The Citadel (323) North Carolina (6)
Miami (Ohio) (253) (New Orleans)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: None

Chris Holtmann’s first Buckeye non-conference schedule doesn’t feature a single repeat foe from Thad Matta’s final one. But that doesn’t mean that OSU’s new coach won’t encounter any familiar faces—Ohio State could meet Holtmann’s former employer, Butler, on day three of the Phil Knight Invitational. That trip to Portland and another to New Orleans to face North Carolina are the only games Ohio State will play away from home this season. But that’s not to say the Value City Arena slate is challenge-free, especially for a club that experienced serious roster turnover. Matchups against Texas Southern, Northeastern, Clemson, and William & Mary could be particularly tricky for the Bucks.

88. Purdue Boilermakers

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
SIU Edwardsville (313) None Tennessee (62)* None Marquette (57)#
Chicago State (342)* Villanova (1) or
Fairfield (232) WKU (190)*
Louisville (8)^ Arizona (7) or
Valparaiso (68) SMU (15) or
IUPUI (241) UNI (82) or
Tennessee State (226) North Carolina State (67)*
Lipscomb (240) Butler (26)
(Conseco Fieldhouse)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (Villanova, @Louisville)

With scandal-plagued Louisville the only team likely to truly test the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena, Matt Painter’s team will have to build most of the non-conference portion of its résumé away from home. And with Big East opponents Marquette Golden Eagles and Butler Bulldogs possible bubble teams, there’s a bit of extra pressure on Purdue’s Atlantis quarterfinal against Tennessee. Win that and the Boilers probably earn a rematch of last season’s 79-76 home loss to Villanova. Lose it, and consolation games against WKU and either UNI or N.C. State would follow.

93. Indiana Hoosiers

*Exempt Event: Hoosier Tip-Off Classic

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Indiana State (174) None Notre Dame (21) None Seton Hall (48)#
Howard (333)* (Indianapolis) Louisville (8)
USF (267)*
Arkansas State (204)*
Eastern Michigan (137)*
Duke (9)^
Fort Wayne (141)
Tennessee Tech (245)
Youngstown State (278)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (@Fort Wayne, @Louisville)

With two true road games (granted one is a Gavitt series matchup) and only one bottom 50 team visiting Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers upped their scheduling game in Archie Miller’s first season. And indeed, the top four games on this schedule—Duke in the Big Ten/ACC series, Seton Hall in the Gavitt event, a Crossroads Classic encounter with Notre Dame, and trip to Louisville—will all seriously challenge an IU squad that struggled with injuries and inconsistency in 2016-17.

101. Michigan Wolverines

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
North Florida (209)* None LSU (90)* Chaminade (non-D1) North Carolina (6)^
Central Michigan (179) Notre Dame (21) (or Notre Dame)* Texas (39)
Southern Mississippi (308) (or Chaminade)*
UC Riverside (274) Wichita State (10) or
UCLA (28) VCU (35) or
Alabama A&M (344) California (49) or
Jacksonville (306) Marquette (57)*
Detroit-Mercy (237)
(Little Caesars Arena)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Marquette (N), Texas) and 1 loss (@UCLA)

The Wolverines’ 2017-18 non-conference schedule is remarkably similar to last season’s—and that slate worked out well for a team that ended up winning the Big Ten Tournament and reaching the Sweet Sixteen. This time around, Michigan faces a more difficult exempt tournament, as they’ll need to win three games in Maui, likely including ones over Notre Dame and Wichita State, to win a second straight Thanksgiving week crown. Plus, John Beilein’s club will likely aim for a split of their road trips to North Carolina and Texas. As for the home slate, UCLA is far and away the best team visiting Crisler this fall.

137. Michigan State Spartans

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Victory Bracket

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-5) Semi-Road Games (0-2) True Road Games (0)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-5) Semi-Road Games (0-2) True Road Games (0)
North Florida (209) None Duke (9) Oregon (18) None
Stony Brook (142)* (Chicago) (or UConn)
Notre Dame (21)^ DePaul (171)* Portland (215)
Southern Utah (340) UConn (55) (or North Carolina,
Houston Baptist (282) (or Oregon)* Oklahoma, or
Long Beach State (156) North Carolina (6) or Arkansas)*
Cleveland State (219) Oklahoma (23) or
Savannah State (330) Arkansas (42)
(or Portland)*
Oakland (115)
(Detroit)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Oakland) and 1 loss (@Duke)

The Spartans won’t play a true road game this season, and other than their ACC Challenge matchup with Notre Dame, their biggest challenges are set for neutral floors. First up is a matchup with Duke in the Champions Classic on the season’s first Tuesday. Then comes the Phil Knight Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend where Tom Izzo’s team could play a semi-road contest against Oregon in the semifinals (or Portland on day three if things go poorly). Finally, there will be a meeting with Oakland in downtown Detroit—and the Grizzlies typically play Sparty close in neutral-site meetings.

201. Northwestern Wildcats

*Exempt Event: Hall Of Fame Tip-Off (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Loyola (Md.) (293) None La Salle (159)* None Georgia Tech (73)^
Saint Peter's (164)* Texas Tech (58) or DePaul (171)
Creighton (34)# Boston College (160)* Oklahoma (23)
Sacred Heart (304)*
Chicago State (342)
Valparaiso (68)
Lewis (Non-D1)
Brown (266)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (DePaul, Chicago State) and 0 losses

The biggest challenge for the Wildcats in their attempt to turn their first-ever NCAA appearance into a streak will be the fact they’re playing a season of road games. Thanks to renovations to Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern will play its eight non-conference home games and its Big Ten slate at DePaul’s former home, Allstate Arena. Still, with the exception of a home contest with Creighton, the majority of tests Chris Collins’s squad will come away from Rosemont—as three true Power 7 road games are on tap and the Cats are guaranteed a power game on the second day of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off.

220. Minnesota Golden Gophers

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
USC Upstate (250) None UMass (130)* None Providence (43)#
Niagara (297) Alabama (59)* Arkansas (42)
Alabama A&M (344)*
Western Carolina (268)*
Miami (Fla.) (29)^
Drake (260)
Oral Roberts (216)
FAU (291)
Harvard (106)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Arkansas) and 0 losses

Yes, the bottom of the Golden Gophers’ slate, featuring seven games against teams ranked worse than 200th in the four-year ranking, isn’t great. But the other six contests, including the four to be played away from Williams Arena should more than make up for those deficiencies. Both Miami and Harvard will bring some needed prestige to the home schedule, while Alabama, Arkansas, and Providence should all join Richard Pitino’s squad in the 2018 NCAA field.

229. Maryland Terrapins

*Exempt Event: Emerald Coast Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
Maryland Eastern Shore (315)* None St. Bonaventure (84)* Stony Brook (142) Syracuse (38)^
Butler (26)# TCU (69) or (Uniondale, N.Y.)
Bucknell (128) New Mexico (105)*
Jackson State (310)
Ohio (127)
Gardner-Webb (213)
Catholic (Non-D1)
Fairleigh Dickinson (296)
UMBC (307)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Stony Brook) and 0 losses

While the Terps won 24 games—including 12 in non-league play—their lack of quality non-conference wins meant they only earned a six seed last March. And with Butler and Patriot League favorite Bucknell the two best teams visiting College Park this fall and potential Emerald Coast final opponent TCU looking like the strongest NCAA bet of the teams Maryland will meet away from home, Mark Turgeon’s team will only have itself to blame if the Selection Committee treats it in a similar fashion this time around.

238. Nebraska Cornhuskers

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
Eastern Illinois (252) None West Virginia (11) or UCF (136)* St. John's (102)#*
North Texas (303) Marist (312)* Creighton (34)
North Dakota (223) St. John's (102) or
Boston College (160)^ Oregon State (135) or
Kansas (5) Missouri (150) or
UTSA (301) Long Beach State (156)*
Delaware State (338)
Stetson (325)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (@Creighton, Kansas)

The Cornhuskers haven’t finished above .500 since their last NCAA Tournament season in 2014—Tim Miles’s second in charge. Heading into year six, Miles is on the hot seat. And while this schedule, featuring five home games against teams in the bottom 100, is designed to get Nebraska off to a winning start, it might take some upsets to get the Huskers back to March Madness. Nebraska’s exempt tournament is particularly tricky, as for the second year in succession, they’re participating in an ESPN event that features a local participant. Complicating matters, the Cornhuskers will play UCF on day one of 2017’s AdvoCare Invitational—while in 2016, their game with UCLA didn’t occur until the semifinal stage.

265. Iowa Hawkeyes

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (5) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Chicago State (342) None Louisiana (123)* None Virginia Tech (75)^
Alabama State (327)* South Dakota State (119) or Iowa State (14)
Grambling State (350) Wyoming (131)*
Southern (284) Cincinnati (20) or
Southern Utah (340) Richmond (80) or
Northern Illinois (184) Buffalo (104) or
UAB (147)*
Drake (260)
(Des Moines)
Colorado (60)
(Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Iowa State) and 0 losses

With a home slate featuring a trio of SWAC teams and four opponents from the bottom 50, the Hawkeyes will have to do real work away from Iowa City to return to the NCAAs after a one-year absence. And with Fran McCaffery’s team facing tricky opponents on the first two days of the Cayman Islands Classic, it can’t assume a day three matchup against Cincinnati will happen. Considering both Colorado and Iowa State have serious questions surrounding them heading into the season, Virginia Tech looks like the strongest non-league foe on Iowa’s entire slate.

274. Penn State Nittany Lions

*Exempt Event: Legends Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Campbell (311) None Pittsburgh (53)* None North Carolina State (67)^
Fairleigh Dickinson (296) Oklahoma State (32) or George Mason (157)
Montana (166)* Texas A&M (44)*
Columbia (167)
Oral Roberts (216)*
George Washington (83)
Binghamton (331)
Rider (212)
Coppin State (339)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@George Washington) and 2 losses (George Mason, Pittsburgh (N))

Pat Chambers heads into his seventh season still looking for his first NCAA bid in State College—the Nittany Lions last reached the field in 2011. And with just one likely tournament squad on this slate—Texas A&M, who Penn State could meet in the Legends Classic final—PSU will need to rack up Big Ten wins to end its time in the wilderness.

This will be the second season in a row that the Nittany Lions meet Pittsburgh on a neutral-floor. The Panthers took down Penn State by an 81-73 count in the Never Forget Tribute Games in Newark last December.

314. Illinois Fighting Illini

*Exempt Event: Global Sports Invitational

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
Southern (284)* New Mexico State (86) Missouri (150) UNLV (154) Wake Forest (66)^
UT Martin (227)* (Chicago) (St. Louis) (T-Mobile Arena)
DePaul (171)#
Marshall (178)
Augustana (Ill.) (Non-D1)
North Carolina Central (182)*
Austin Peay (290)
Longwood (341)
Grand Canyon (172)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Missouri (N)) and 0 losses

Last season, the Fighting Illini lost just three regular-season non-conference games—all in a five-day span as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Those defeats contributed to Illinois missing the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season and John Groce’s dismissal. And after a highly successful season in Stillwater, Brad Underwood headed north to replace him. This schedule, featuring nine-home games, highlighted by a four-game exempt round-robin, and relatively easy contests away from Champaign, should give the Illini a decent start. The Braggin’ Rights game against Missouri and Big Ten/ACC tilt at Wake Forest look like the most difficult matchups here by some margin.

346. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

*Exempt Event: Showcase On The Banks

True Home Games (13) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0)
True Home Games (13) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0)
CCNY (Non-D1) None None None None
Central Connecticut State (346)*
Cleveland State (219)*
Coppin State (339)*
Bryant (309)
East Carolina (198)*
Florida State (36)^
NJIT (249)
Fairleigh Dickinson (296)
Fordham (186)
Seton Hall (48)
Stony Brook (142)
Hartford (324)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 5 wins (Hartford, Central Connecticut State, Stony Brook, Fairleigh Dickinson, Fordham) and 1 loss (@Seton Hall)

A Big Ten/ACC Challenge home game against Florida State and visit from former Big East rival Seton Hall are the only things that saving Scarlet Knight schedule that features a non-D1 opponent and nine teams from outside of the top 100. Making matters worse, four of those actually rank among the bottom 50. If Steve Pikiell’s team doesn’t equal its 2016-17 non-conference win total of 11 against this slate, it will be a shock.

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